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After the Success of “Autobiography”, Morrissey is Writing a Novel

January 7, 2014

In a Q&A with fans posted on his fansite True To You, Morrissey dropped the news that he is currently writing a novel:

In 2013 I published my Autobiography and it has been more successful than any record I have ever released, so, yes, I am mid-way through my novel. I have my hopes. The actuality is that radio stations will not play my music, and the majority of people have lost faith in the music industry, and it’s generally assumed – quite rightly – that the number one chart positions are “bought” by the major labels, so there really is no passion left in pop or rock music, and I don’t think people believe for an instant that the faces we constantly see on television and in magazines are remotely popular. It’s all, now, solely a question of marketing. All success stories are safe and dreary, and you will never be taken by surprise by a hit song that sounds out of place. This is not just my view but the view of everyone I know.

Having just finished his autobiography (titled “Autobiography“) I can tell you that Morrissey is – as expected – a very  talented writer. There are sections where I feel that he probably would have benefited from the eyes of a good editor, but on the whole Morrissey is much better skilled at telling a story, and conveying the thoughts and emotions he had while living that story, than most entertainers.

As a lifelong devoted fan of Moz I am certain that I will read “Novel” (as I expect it to be called). In fact, I’m more certain that I will purchase and read Novel than I am that I will listen to his next album, which is also in the works. This makes him quite an extraordinary public figure, as he alludes to in the quote above when he points out that Autobiography has been more successful than any record he has ever released. How can that be? Why would anyone be more interested in reading the autobiography of a musician than listening to his music? And yet, being a huge fan of Morrissey enables me to believe – if not completely understand – that his statement is true. While I can’t get enough of Morrissey’s music – with or without the Smiths – I was more excited for his autobiography than I was for any of his albums since 1992’s Your Arsenal. Since then he has released six albums, all of which I own (at least digitally) and have listened to countless times – and all of which I quite enjoy – yet none is nearly as exciting as the very essence of Morrissey. His Morrissey-ness is now more interesting than his music.

That got me to thinking – are there any other artists out there like that? Artists who (a) I still enjoy their music and would expect to listen to and probably like their next album, but (b) I would more eagerly anticipate an autobiography from the artist than that next album. I’d have to eliminate every artist/band whom I neglected to listen to when their last album came out – that means no Pearl Jam, no David Bowie, no members of New Order, no R.E.M., no Jane’s Addiction – even though I’d probably read an autobiography written by, say, Michael Stipe or Perry Farrell. I’m also going to eliminate all dead artists, since I think they have an unfair “advantage” in this question as their autobiography would undoubtedly be better than any music anyone could possibly produce. So I’d choose an autobiography magically written by Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis or Jim Morrison over a new Nirvana, Joy Division or Doors record, but I’ll set those men aside. The answer to this question can only be an artist or artists who have put out many albums, still makes good music but unquestionably will never produce anything close to their best again, is still relevant/interesting (i.e. I’d still probably want to see them perform live), and has lived a unique enough life than an autobiography would be a must-read. I can only think of one other person who fits that description:

Trent Reznor.

If Trent Reznor wrote an autobiography, it might sell more than Morrissey’s. It would be far more successful than any of Nine Inch Nails‘ last five albums (anything after 1999’s The Fragile) or anything released by Reznor’s side project, How To Destroy Angels. For all the interesting things Reznor does (the man is, after all, an Academy Award winner) perhaps nothing he could do would be met with more anticipation than an autobiography. So here I am, starting the campaign – if you’re reading this Trent, your fans want you to write a book. Even more than we want you to make music. I’ll even get you started: you can call it “Nothing“.

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